Dpdwyer's Reviews > I Don't Believe in Atheists

I Don't Believe in Atheists by Chris Hedges
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's review
Aug 09, 2010

it was amazing
Read from July 28 to 30, 2010

This is a fine book with a suitably ambiguous title, which interestingly was changed to When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists, for the paperback. It challenges a number of important issues in fewer than 200 pages. First, he goes after the new atheists: Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris. I have read many of Dawkins books on evolution. He's a calm and extremely lucid writer. Then came The God Delusion, a rant against religion, with Dawkins sounding like a secular Pat Robertson. Hedges nails them, I think appropriately, for essentially setting science up like a religion with a goal of collective salvation, and for urging violence against religion, particularly Islam. Hedges is not optimistic about human nature, and he does not believe that humankind can progress morally. In the final chapter, The Illusive Self, he describes our over reliance on rational thinking, and the decline of real community. He talks about "the sacred" but it wasn't clear to me exactly what he was saying. He points out the limitations of consciousness and urges going beyond reason to what he calls intuition. This sounds similar to what in meditation we call wide open awareness. He does not see happy times in our future.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Bob (new)

Bob Nichols I'll be interested in your take on this book.

message 2: by Jon (new)

Jon Stout I find Karen Armstrong to be the best antidote to Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris. I also like what Paul Tillich has to say about atheism. The new atheists often have a soft spot for meditation, which is probably a redeeming vulnerability.

message 3: by Bob (new)

Bob Nichols I will take a look at the book. From the review, I'm more interested in his non-optimistic view of human nature, that we won't progress morally and his views of The Illusive Self than his take on the anti-theists per se.

Dpdwyer That book led me to Straw Dogs by John Gray, a British philosopher, and this it seems is where Hedges got his ideas about human nature and history and moral progress. So far it's just full of ideas about human nature, history, neurology, evolution, etc.

message 5: by Jon (new)

Jon Stout By coincidence, I just bought Straw Dogs, on the recommendation of another Peace Corps friend, who finds it depressing but compelling.

message 6: by Bob (new)

Bob Nichols I'm interested now in this book too, so like to hear what the two of you think.

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